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View Full Version : Positives and negatives of County Dressage saddles anyone?



RunForIt
Jun. 27, 2012, 12:15 PM
I'm going to try a couple of different County dressage saddles this weekend with the company's local rep. Several friends have them and think their horses go well in them. Anything in particular I should be aware of - positive and negative? Horse is a short coupled (VERY short coupled) OTTB with a typical TB wither but not horribly shark finned, broad shoulders, and a bit of rise form his wither to croup...he cannot tolerate anything pressing on the sides of his wither or that area just behind and to the side of the wither. Fun horse to fit in a saddle particularly when you've got a budget. :cool: So all comments will be appreciated! THX!!!!

Carried Away
Jun. 27, 2012, 12:39 PM
My only comment about County's is that I have short legs and found the flap on most to be too long.

My main reason for replying is that I have a horse with what sounds like a very similar build to yours...I have tried probably 15 dressage saddles on him and everything pinched his withers or hit him in the shoulder. I finally found a saddle that works, a used Niedersuss Symphonie. He goes like a dream in it and I was very pleased that it didn't break the bank! Good luck!

Samantha37
Jun. 27, 2012, 12:45 PM
I have a County Perfection dressage saddle and a County Innovation jump saddle and love both. I really like the way the Perfection helps keep my leg in the correct position. I'm a big fan of Countys if you can't tell ;)

RunForIt
Jun. 27, 2012, 01:06 PM
My only comment about County's is that I have short legs and found the flap on most to be too long.

My main reason for replying is that I have a horse with what sounds like a very similar build to yours...I have tried probably 15 dressage saddles on him and everything pinched his withers or hit him in the shoulder. I finally found a saddle that works, a used Niedersuss Symphonie. He goes like a dream in it and I was very pleased that it didn't break the bank! Good luck!


Thanks - my pony will NOT tolerate getting hit in the shoulder for very long ... part of the fit fun, eh? :eek: :cool:

Carried Away
Jun. 27, 2012, 01:18 PM
Mine either! :) He was very clear which saddles he would tolerate and which he would not. The Niedersuss was also the only one that didn't slide forward.

deltawave
Jun. 27, 2012, 01:35 PM
I have bought two Connections--the first I rode in for years and years on a number of horses, and when Bonnie turned into a horse requiring a narrow tree at age 10 :eek: I bought another Connection in narrow just for her. Of course it fits NOBODY else. :sigh: :lol: The original Connection was part of a multi-saddle trade with scubed but I wouldn't hesitate to get another one.

I liked how it fit me really well--I got the slightly forward flap and am very comfortable in these saddles. I do have longer legs. They fit all of my horses well, never had a chance to try one on Boscoe-the-fussy but he's a wide so neither of mine would have likely been a good fit.

Quality excellent and the fake elephant pattern or whatever it is (buffalo?) is nice and grippy. The black did fade to a very slight green after I did an entire dressage show in the pouring rain, but that would no doubt happen with any saddle.

I think the newer ones (post 2005 or 2007) have flatter panels than older ones, FWIW.

FlightCheck
Jun. 27, 2012, 01:40 PM
County fan here.

They fit me and my horses well. I hate hate hate saddles with so much padding that I can't feel my horse underneath me - the County has just enough.

Couldn't find a Connection in my price range, so am on my second Competitor.

RiverBendPol
Jun. 27, 2012, 02:02 PM
RFI-

I have a County Competitor which my DDH bought me for our 15th wedding anniversary. That means I have had the saddle for 22 years AND he bought it 2nd hand......I love the thing. It has been patched and reflocked and right now it is getting some new billet straps. I will keep it going as long as I can.

Now, we bought a new County Competitor for Em a few years ago. Seemed great at the time but guess what, after a while, neither of us liked it. It just left home with Tahd when he moved away to his new home last month...I do have a newish (10 years) Albion which has gone off with Em-she loves it. I did too, but it wouldn't fit Matty.

faybe
Jun. 27, 2012, 03:56 PM
DH has a County Connection for his moderately high-withered, very narrow TB. Pony LOVES it and DH likes it for himself as well. Be sure you talk to your rep about the fit options, we ended up getting one with skid row panels for more lift in the wither area. We got lucky and found the saddle above with everything we needed/wanted (right size, buffalo leather, skid row panels, right tree size etc) in like-new condition online for a steal. Good deals are out there!

deltawave
Jun. 27, 2012, 04:39 PM
Pardon the hijack, but what are "skid row panels", please?

FoxChaser
Jun. 27, 2012, 05:17 PM
I had an older (read 27 years old!!) County Warmblood that I LOVED- fit my butt like a glove, could ride it all day, fit everything I ever put it on. You would never, ever know that it was 27 except that it didn't have huge blocks, etc on it. My trainer got after me that the flap was too short/ not forward enough for my femur, so I sadly sold it for slightly more than what I paid for it (kept it 12 years) to a girl who adores it. I also have an Eventer that is the only saddle one of my horses will allow on his back and my husband has an Eventer. I think the old County saddles are great- have no experience at all with the newer ones.

Jleegriffith
Jun. 27, 2012, 08:22 PM
I have the connection in a short forward flap and I love it. Hardly ever ride in it but that is my problem not the saddles. I find that the county saddles fit a wide range of Tb's. All of mine do have skid row panels because of the range of horses that I normally have in here.

RunForIt
Jun. 27, 2012, 08:41 PM
I have the connection in a short forward flap and I love it. Hardly ever ride in it but that is my problem not the saddles. I find that the county saddles fit a wide range of Tb's. All of mine do have skid row panels because of the range of horses that I normally have in here.

Jess, could you do us all a favor and explain "skid row panels"? I think they've got something to do with a TB horse named Skid Row but beyond that I'm clueless except that I know County is famous for these panels! :cool:

Wayside
Jun. 27, 2012, 08:50 PM
I have an older County Competitor. My mare is an Anglo-Trakehner with a TB type topline, and that saddle fits her like a glove. Me, not so much, but I have a long femur and tiny feet, so most saddles seem to put me in the dreaded chair position.

Bensmom
Jun. 27, 2012, 10:23 PM
I believe the Skid Row panels are a wither gusset set up that works particularly well on higher withered horses, or horses with the pockets on either side of their withers.

Taz is built like that, and if I had a County for him, I'd likely have it made with the skid row panels -- he isn't terribly narrow, and most regular tree saddles look as if they will fit him, but as soon as they are weight bearing, they sit down on his wither, because there is not enough on either side to support the saddle.

Buzz needed a m-w tree, but needed gussets on either side of the wither to keep it from sliding in to the pockets he had at the top of his shoulders.

Of course, I may be wrong, and a person with the panels can explain it better!

SnicklefritzG
Jun. 27, 2012, 10:46 PM
@Bensmon: when I had the county rep out she explained the Skid Row panels the same way you did. So, yeah what you said sounds right.

in_the_zone
Jun. 27, 2012, 11:27 PM
Great saddles and superior leather. The bad? Stock saddles are perfect for tall long legged riders like Anky who have a lovely stick straight leg. The good news is that you can get the flap shortened and more forward if necessary. And they cost $3-4k brand new. Worth the money though if you can afford one. May be worthwhile to look into a used saddle and have it fit to your horse. Tree sizes run small (a MW is closer to a M).

alto
Jun. 28, 2012, 12:26 AM
Tree sizes run small (a MW is closer to a M).

Depends on the model/tree - though if you do need an XW or XXW or XXXW etc they will custom make the tree, though I've no idea how that affects price (I believe they offer ~8 "stock" trees)

I've seen some wonderful deals on slightly used County dressage saddles, always obtain the saddle serial number & check to see how the saddle was altered off of "stock" for the particular order.

NCSaddleFitter
Jun. 28, 2012, 09:25 AM
Skid Row panels are County's version of a dropped panel which adds more bearing surface to the underside of the saddle for narrower horses. The term was coined by Master Saddler David Young when trying to fit a very narrow horse named "Skid Row." Fun fact. :)

Georgia_Love
Jul. 1, 2012, 05:35 AM
[QUOTE=in_the_zone;6400542]Great saddles and superior leather. The bad? Stock saddles are perfect for tall long legged riders like Anky who have a lovely stick straight leg. QUOTE]

As one such tall, long legged rider, I have to politely disagree with this statement. I have yet to find a county dressage saddle that I am comfortable in, including multiple stock & custom countys. A lot of people rave about them, but I personally feel like I can't keep my leg underneath me in every one I try and am constantly being pushed into a chair seat. Worth a try to see if they work for you, they just don't work for everybody :)

Absolut
Jul. 2, 2012, 01:04 PM
I love my County Perfection...love it. The same for my County Conquest for jumping. Recommend it for all of my students for safety and balance points in mid flight
.

Somantu
Jul. 2, 2012, 01:28 PM
for different folks.

I have a County Competitor w/short forward flaps and Skid Row panels. Fits me and dobbin like a charm. I'm short-legged and he's a 16.2 TB.

I also have a County Eventer – their AP saddle. Interestingly, this saddle works for me at 5'2" as well as my part-boarder at 5'11". I'm not sure where her extra 9" end up – her knees don't go over the flaps, but we both love the saddle.:D

But as with all saddles, you've gotta find the one that fits you and your horse.

RunForIt
Jul. 2, 2012, 05:37 PM
...Rasta remains unconvinced. We're going to give him a few days though and let the "muscle memory" of the saddle that gives him problems maybe fade so that a real evaluation of these saddles can continue. Have a fantastic upper level dressage rider weighing in on the saddles as well as the County fitter. I've not done anything more than walk him for almost two months knowing my jump saddle just isn't fitting him properly and he makes it clear that he's uncomfortable so I'm horribly unbalanced trotting and cantering - maybe it's me more than the saddle...hence the need for a competent rider to help us evaluate saddles. The ultimate choice for saddles rests with Rasta...this is SUCH a PITA!!!!! :(:cry::o

dappled
Jul. 2, 2012, 07:07 PM
I seem to have stumbled into the perfect thread, considering I just got on my computer after spending a solid hour cleaning and conditioning my County!

I have a 2000 County Competitor, and I absolutely ADORE it. It's 12 years old and the leather could pass as like-new. It has held up incredible well and although the leather still has a slightly stiff, new feeling (however I have noticed dressage saddles tend to stay this way more than jumping saddles... must be because we aren't as rough on them), the leather is also soft and supple.

It's a dream to ride in... putting me in the perfect position without a heavily knee roll doing that for you. It's not constricting like many of the "bulkier" dressage saddles can be. It's extraordinarily comfortable too! My horse loves it as well... he goes super smooth in it and hasn't ever been fussy in this saddle.

Overall I absolutely love it. I feel like my response may have been a bit general but I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about it!

KateWooten
Jul. 3, 2012, 01:16 AM
I think they are good saddles, but you need to find a good rep. We have one rep in our area who lets the client have a 20 minute ride, they feel pressured to buy, and then if the saddle doesn't work out, she refuses point blank to help them. I have a couple of county saddles in the truck that have 4 or 5 rides on them. Rep won't take them back. Won't part-ex. Won't take on consignment. Won't even help the client to sell. That's unpleasant customer service, imho.

Good saddles, but seriously, $5000 and you won't take it back if your client calls you Within The Week ??????

Samantha37
Jul. 3, 2012, 10:39 AM
I'm lucky to have a great rep here in the sweltering state of VA :) Ann Mary Bettenson is the best and I never felt pressured to buy and she has been SO good about helping me- even helped me find a used saddle elsewhere.

www.saddlesolutions.net

Check her out if you are in the area.

alto
Jul. 3, 2012, 11:27 AM
I think they are good saddles, but you need to find a good rep. We have one rep in our area who lets the client have a 20 minute ride, they feel pressured to buy, and then if the saddle doesn't work out, she refuses point blank to help them. I have a couple of county saddles in the truck that have 4 or 5 rides on them. Rep won't take them back. Won't part-ex. Won't take on consignment. Won't even help the client to sell. That's unpleasant customer service, imho.

Good saddles, but seriously, $5000 and you won't take it back if your client calls you Within The Week ??????

These clients really needed to read the fine print on their purchase contracts - there is a window (not long - officially!) when you may return the saddle regardless of your rep, just contact head office in MD.
If enough complaints go in about this rep - again just call the head office or send an email - the rep will be "gone". County takes any possible/potential complaints about their reps very seriously.

I agree this rep sounds awful - mine books in at least 1 hour for each client consult, will stay for 3 hours (on more then one occasion!!!), comes out multiple times, is very focused on the saddle fitting both the rider & the horse, will teach an impromptu jump lesson, will extend that saddle "return" window (with Head Office agreement) as her geographical area is extensive, is far better at fitting the horse than the "highly trained" independent fitter in my area, helped me search for a used jump saddle, will try to connect new clients with used "for sale" saddles of other clients ...

Wordplay1832
Jul. 3, 2012, 11:44 AM
I have a county competitor-it is probably a 2003 model that I got in 2007. I love it! I am very long legged (36'' inseam) and an 18'' fits me really well. The seat is a bit long for my lack of tush but it fits my legs really well and I don't feel like I'm swimming in it.

It is a medium and it fits pretty much any horse I put it on-including my finicky backed thoroughbred mare.

I tried an innovation jumping saddle, and I may try another but they didn't have a demo that had a forward enough flap for me so it really was hard to tell if I would like one that fit me properly.

The quality of the saddles is really really nice, and I love that they are wool flocked so can be fit and re-flocked as needed, rather than a foam panel that is less forgiving and flexible.

scubed
Jul. 3, 2012, 11:55 AM
I love the Connection and Hilda (who is built very like you) has really liked the Competitor over the years. They are wonderfully made saddles (at least the older ones and I haven't specifically heard about any quality decrement). I ended up with a Hastilow for Keegan, who is built similarly to your guy. Debi Crowley probably rode him in a County Innovation because that is what most of hers now seem to be. I rode in one of hers and didn't love that one as much.

alto
Jul. 3, 2012, 12:10 PM
and Hilda (who is built very like you)
:lol:

FLeckenAwesome
Jul. 3, 2012, 12:18 PM
I'm so excited... I ordered a chocolate brown perfection!!!!!! Now if I can just get my horse sound.... Doh!

I do love that saddle... I can SIT in it... not perch.. SIT into my horse. :) And yet I can still adjust myself and make corrections without having to fight it. It helps me sit in the correct place too. I can't wait!!! Just a few more weeks :)

RunForIt
Jul. 3, 2012, 12:30 PM
I love the Connection and Hilda (who is built very like you) has really liked the Competitor over the years. They are wonderfully made saddles (at least the older ones and I haven't specifically heard about any quality decrement). I ended up with a Hastilow for Keegan, who is built similarly to your guy. Debi Crowley probably rode him in a County Innovation because that is what most of hers now seem to be. I rode in one of hers and didn't love that one as much.

Thanks for the insights, scubed - and the COMPLIMENT - would oh-so-LOVE to be built like dearest HIlda :D . I may not remember this right, but think Debi was riding pony in her MN (?)Conquest that she used on Mo...at any rate, he put thumbs down on all the saddles at the canter - happiest in the Perfection at the trot but still grumpy. Hoping some of this is simply muscle memory from daily very uncomfortable unpressure points and rocking and bridging...sigh. We'll see - do have another plan though...:cool:

p.s. Cubbies here - tonight?

RunForIt
Jul. 3, 2012, 12:34 PM
Since I do know of at least one saddle on this earth that Rasta approves of (even with ME riding him :lol: ), I'm wondering if it's the girthing system on said saddle...just HATE the idea of spending MORE than horse cost on a new saddle...and then, just because the one fits, doesn't mean the custom will...been there waaaaaaayyyyy too many costly ($$$) times :eek: :cool:

SR Rider
Jul. 3, 2012, 04:36 PM
Sold my Passier and bought a County Dressage Saddle...loved it loved it loved it! Made me even enjoy dressage (I even rode better!)

FLeckenAwesome
Jul. 3, 2012, 08:46 PM
What's the difference in the girthing system Lynda? That's an interesting thought.....

Is he still backsore?

RunForIt
Jul. 3, 2012, 09:39 PM
What's the difference in the girthing system Lynda? That's an interesting thought.....

Is he still backsore?

not a bit - back palpates super ...even with the jump saddle leaving HUGE dry spots after every ride...the only thing different to the eye in the Stackhouse and the County Perfection are the two girthing systems...:confused:

speedwell
Jul. 4, 2012, 12:03 PM
I have two County's: the Connection which I bought used (11 months old) and the Conquest, new. I love both of them. I've had them 7 years and ride the heck out them.

2004 Connection - 17in, Narrow Tree, Black
2005 Conquest - 18in, Narrow Tree, Red/Brown

I think the leather on the Connection is better. It is the buffalo finish, and I wish I had ordered that option with the Conquest. I also wish I had ordered the dark brown color. I have used saddle dressing to bring down the red and it looks better, but I like the dark brown better.

They both fit my 17H oval TBx wonderfully. My boy can be a little light on his front feet when he gets worked up, and even with his rear/hops/tigger bounces the saddle NEVER moves. Both saddles have Skid Row panels.

I moved out of the my County rep's area and have had other saddle fitters, evaluate, adjust and flock. All reports were good on tree size and panel shape.

I had to go up to the 18 in seat on the Conquest because I am long hip to knee. The rep said that ordering a forward flap would shift the balance of the saddle and my knees were close to front edge. So we moved by seat bones back with the longer seat. I was worried, but it was the right choice for me.

alto
Jul. 4, 2012, 01:48 PM
...Rasta remains unconvinced. We're going to give him a few days though and let the "muscle memory" of the saddle that gives him problems maybe fade so that a real evaluation of these saddles can continue. Have a fantastic upper level dressage rider weighing in on the saddles as well as the County fitter. I've not done anything more than walk him for almost two months knowing my jump saddle just isn't fitting him properly and he makes it clear that he's uncomfortable so I'm horribly unbalanced trotting and cantering - maybe it's me more than the saddle...hence the need for a competent rider to help us evaluate saddles. The ultimate choice for saddles rests with Rasta...this is SUCH a PITA!!!!! :(:cry::o

No idea what your pony (?) looks like, but FP (Welsh Cob so wide, deep shoulder, straight wide back) also does not like the Perfection or the Innovation - he prefers Competitor (Connection was almost as good but rider preferance for Comp) & the Stabilizer: I suspect part of the issue is that the stock panels on the Innovation are narrower in the gullet channel than the Stabilizer so consider whether that is affecting his opinion (note FP is far more forgiving of saddle fit in the walk/trot & then it all goes to heck in the canter - his canter in the Stabilizer is instantly better).
He never acted sore or looked NQR but we decided to get an Equine Therapist out - what a difference!
Unfortunately it had no effect on his saddle preferances - he is still a Stabilizer boy :winkgrin:

Spartacus
Feb. 8, 2013, 02:30 AM
To original poster: I love my County Innovation for jumping, but did not have the budget to get another County when I turned to dressage. Our much-beloved rep retired just at that time, and another one came on board who was so swamped I could not get a "fit" appointment to see what might suit us both (my horse and I). I stumbled upon a used Hennig dressage saddle and found that my horse LOVES it---he is built like yours. The tree points of Hennigs point somewhat backward, so there is no shoulder/trapezious interference at all. Bonus: the trees are adjustable (by either Schleese or Hennig dealer), so if it works for you, they can make it work for your horse. Just a thought. :)

P.S. It took me over a month to get out of my jumper-forward-leg seat and comfortable into that open, straight leg of dressage----it was a very hard month, and I felt like I was fighting the big knee block. Then, one day it just clicked, and I've been super comfy ever since.

rabicon
Feb. 8, 2013, 10:12 AM
Hi. Did you have Cindy come out? She is great. Got mine from her. It came perfect and fit great. I did have to get a wide For my guy but someone said they are made small. Not compared to the stubben I had. This saddle is a wide like my stubben but is much wider than the stubben and my horse goes amazing in it. I've only had it 6 months but it was worth every cent IMO. My guy was getting back sore with my other saddle. It was nice to try different ones and not have to go to the tack store all the time to find the right saddle and Cindy is very knowledgable so I felt very comfortable with the fit being right. My trainer came when she was here also and my trainer knows a lot about saddle fit but my horse told me the most. We tried 4 or 5 saddles and the one I got he seemed to love. I also love she will come and make sure of the fit after riding a few times in it and readjust for free if needed.

Kitt
Feb. 8, 2013, 12:07 PM
"Skidrow" panels are County's version of the K panel - deeper through the front 1/3 or so, to help support the saddle on a big wither.

SuZQuzie
Feb. 8, 2013, 12:39 PM
Since we are on the topic of County saddles...

I hear that they run wide than most saddles, then I hear they run narrow than most saddles, then I hear it depends on the model. I believe the later. Can anyone give me a guide to which models run wide and/or narrow?

Also, gusseted panels in the County: does that refer to the back panel? A used one I'm looking at has a "2.5in Gusset" & I'm trying to figure out where that gusset is. (Nope, not skid row panels.)

SuZQuzie
Feb. 8, 2013, 12:39 PM
Since we are on the topic of County saddles...

I hear that they run wide than most saddles, then I hear they run narrow than most saddles, then I hear it depends on the model. I believe the later. Can anyone give me a guide to which models run wide and/or narrow?

Also, gusseted panels in the County: does that refer to the back panel? A used one I'm looking at has a "2.5in Gusset" & I'm trying to figure out where that gusset is. (Nope, not skid row panels.)

soloudinhere
Feb. 8, 2013, 12:49 PM
It depends a lot on the saddle. For example, the innovation runs huge. My innovation is marked a N and it is a solid MW, even with skid row panels, which it needs or it would fall on the wither of anything but a barrel with legs.

Gusseted panels could refer to a gusseted panel in the back, or to wither gussets...I'd have to see a picture of the saddle to tell you.

Kitt
Feb. 8, 2013, 01:05 PM
Usually, a 2.5" (or whatever measurement) gusset refers to the rear. The gussets in the front are usually called a wither or shoulder gusset, or a full front gusset.

rabicon
Feb. 8, 2013, 02:02 PM
I have the connection and It runs wider than my stubben scandica and wider than my courbette jumping saddle. It actually runs a good bit wider than both.

Kitt
Feb. 8, 2013, 02:20 PM
rabicon, just FYI, one of the reason the Countys (and many other saddles) fit wider than the Courbettes and Stubbens is that they have shorter tree points. For example, Passier's (also measured in cm.s) 28.5 cm. "wide" tree fits more generously than Stubben's 32 cm. tree - all due to the shorter points. The trees are measured between the tree points pre-construction, so a 5" tree point measuring, say, 30 cm. will fit more generously than an 8" point measuring the same.

merrygoround
Feb. 8, 2013, 02:55 PM
Having ridden primarily in County saddles for over 25 years, I'd say I like them! My oldest is still in good condition, a little faded. I do enjoy the padding in the newer seats. :yes:

FLeckenAwesome
Feb. 8, 2013, 11:22 PM
I'm now anxiously awaiting my innovation :) And... the tree points is an interesting thing... I wonder if that's why FLeck likes these saddles so much!? He jumps amazing with the innovation. I can't wait til mine comes!!!

rabicon
Feb. 9, 2013, 11:21 AM
Thanks. Didn't know that about the tree points. Learn something new everyday. Thanks for that explanation.

SeeTheCityLights
Feb. 9, 2013, 11:28 AM
I've ridden in a Connection and a Competitor, and both of them pull my legs forward in a chair seat, so I have to constantly fight to keep my legs back. It doesn't make for a pleasant ride!

Winding Down
Feb. 10, 2013, 04:00 PM
Chiming in here to say that I love the County dressage saddles, although as above I found the Competitor to have stirrup bars that were set too far forward. The newer ones have stirrup bars set back more so I haven't had the chair position problem.

I have an older Connection now and want to order one just for Mick in the near future. I will probably go with the Connection, and I am guessing he will measure out for MW with Skidrow panels. I have a M Connection now that doesn't fit him quite right and then I've got a Luc Childeric that fits everyone in the world except for him... The latter is a wonderful saddle but my old boney butt does so like the cushiness of the County.... I have never gotten a saddle custom fit before (I am cheap and I buy stuff used and mostly on ebay).

I jump in a Devocoux... and I know those aren't popular on this forum. So I will keep my mouth shut on that one... :ambivalence: